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Thank You For Being Late

November 6th, 2017

That’s actually the title of the latest (and well worth reading) Thomas Friedman book: An Optimist’s guide to thriving in the age of accelerations

In the introduction, and not the theme of the book. Friedman explains how he would often schedule breakfast meetings in Washington, DC. However, his guests would often be 10 to 20 minutes late due to traffic, trouble getting the kids out of the house, or any number of reasons. His response was always: Thank you for being late.

That surprised all the late arrivals, who were rattled and apologetic, and expecting a much different reactions. Friedman explained that it actually created a few minutes for himself. A small block of “found” time to just relax and think. It had given him the time to connect some ideas, to listen in on the people at the next table, or just people-watch.

The first time Friedman wasn’t actually sure he meant it. But the second time he realized that he did. That he enjoyed the few minutes of uninterrupted thinking, and relaxing time. In any (every) chaotic day, it kind of gave him permission to just “slow down” for a bit. When he explained his unusual response to their apology, he started getting quite a few “I know what you mean” responses.

It reduced his stress level and he found (looked for) the value in the breakfast guest being late. Until then, we keep saying “I’m so busy…” as it were some kind of badge of honor, or something to be proud of. Hopefully over a third of the world that’s Gold will try it…who knows – it may help with the daily escalating stress level.

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